All Star Break is a wrap and we are now heading down the
final stretch of the season. With playoff positioning and berths on the line,
every game is crucial.
Especially in the Eastern Conference where several teams
have the potential to steal the last playoff spots.
Its that close.
Lets face it, the East is weak. It is the only conference
where the last three sports in the playoffs can be taken by teams with losing
records. It is so weak, the disastrous New York Knicks have a very realistic
chance to be playing ball in late April.
As of Thursday, the Atlanta Hawks own the eight spot with a
record of 21-28. But Philadelphia,
Chicago and Indiana are all just
half a game behind from stealing that spot. Milwaukee, Charlotte and New York are
within striking distance if one of those teams has a bad week.
Right now you have to say the favorite out of this group is Atlanta. With the
acquisition of Mike Bibby, they are by far the toughest group of the teams
mentioned. If I were to pick one team that could challenge the Hawks for the
eight-seed, I would have to go with Philly.
After trading A.I. last year and Kyle Korver this year, it
seemed like the Sixers were focusing more on rebuilding than trying to win now.
But believe it or not, these scrappy, superstar-less Sixers squad is playing
some good ball. Theyve won seven of their last 10 games, including quality
wins over Orlando and Dallas.
You have to tip your hat off to Mo Cheeks who is getting a
lot out of this group. On paper, the Sixers should really have Miamis record – so 23-31 is impressive. For
does not have a legitimate star on the team. Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller
are good players, but they are not franchise players. What they do have, are
hard-nosed players who scrap and grind their way to wins.
The way they play and the type of players they have, reminds
me a little of past players they used to have like Aaron McKie, Eric Snow and
Mutombo. Willie Green has bounced back from a devastating knee injury a few
years ago to be the teams third option and Samuel Dalembert is the new Mutombo
– rebounding, blocking shots and playing D.
Louis Williams contributing nicely off the bench, averaging
an impressive 10.8 points and 3.3 assists in just 22 minutes of action a night.
He is still very raw, but to me, I see a lot of Monta Ellis in him and believe
he will break out in the next few years hes that nice. Andre Millers 16 and
6 have been solid and the teams other Andre (Iguodala) is slowly getting
better ever since he became the teams first option after A.I. left.
With around 30-games left, the Sixers have a good chance to
play this postseason – but they will have to play a little more consistent.
Their season has been sporadic, theyll go on a win streak, and then theyll
drop seven straight, like they did at the beginning of January.
They also have to get better on the road, where they are
9-17. Half of their remaining games are away games, so they cannot afford to
keep losing away from home especially to teams like Minnesota, a game they
lost by 16 last Wednesday night.